On June 23rd, a Ground Breaking Ceremony was held marking the official start of construction of five new single dwelling homes by Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce on Eagle Street in Saugeen First Nation. Chief Conrad Ritchie and Habitat Executive Director Greg Fryer officially launched the Build with shovels in the ground with the selected families.
In 2020, Saugeen First Nation and Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce signed a memorandum of understanding forming a partnership for Habitat to build energy-efficient and affordable houses for member families on Saugeen’s territory. The five new homes being constructed are in addition to the 11 houses Habitat has already built for Saugeen First Nation who are using a rent-to-own model.
The families who will live in the new homes have been selected by the Chief and Council and as with all families selected for Habitat’s housing program, will be required to complete 500 volunteer hours building their homes along with volunteers and Habitat’s Construction Team. Habitat is also providing homeowner education sessions for the families including budgeting, estate planning and home maintenance.
Habitat is actively recruiting volunteers to help with the Build. Those who are interested in volunteering to not only help with building the homes but also to gain an understanding of the culture and history of Saugeen First Nation can register through Habitat Grey Bruce’s website: habitatgreybruce.ca. Habitat expects to complete construction by late fall. A date for a Dedication Ceremony to celebrate the families moving in to their new homes will be announced in October.
According to Stats Canada, the percentage of households in core housing need include: Bruce County 9.3%, Grey County 11.4%, Ontario 15.3%, Indigenous 18.0%
Saugeen First Nation has 1,920 members with 779 living on reserve. Homeownership and housing in general are important to the community.
Since 2017, Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce has built 28 single dwelling homes for the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and Saugeen First Nation for member families including the first Habitat built house ever built on First Nations territory in Ontario.
Saugeen First Nation will be using a rent-to-own model. Families are required to complete 500 volunteer hours into the building their own homes with Habitat and, after the families move in, they will make monthly payments to the Band and have the opportunity to own their house in 20 years.
“With these homes, it creates a sense of safety, a sense of belonging and a sense of home. The Habitat for Humanity organization has been very helpful in helping the families of Saugeen and also helping to foster wellness in the community with homes for our families so that they have a fresh new space and a fresh new energy,” says Conrad Ritchie, Chief Saugeen First Nation.
“We are honoured to continue our partnership with Saugeen First Nation to build safe, affordable and energy efficient homes for member families. Our Build is not only providing needed housing but also skills training and employment for several members of Saugeen Ojibway Nation along with volunteer opportunities for people to experience Saugeen First Nation’s unique culture,” says Greg Fryer, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce.